Diet Can Impact Migraines
impo“One of the most rtant triggers for headache is the withdrawal of ca eine,” says Martin, who also sees patients at UC Health. “Let’s say you regularly pound down three or four cups of co ee every morning and you decide to skip your morning routine one day, you will likely have full edged ca eine withdrawal headache that day.”
Eliminating that morning ‘Cup of Joe,’ consuming processed foods high in nitrites or monosodium glutamate (MSG) and enjoying too much alcohol are potential headache triggers for individuals battling migraines, says Vincent Martin, MD, professor in the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Medicine.
There are two di erent approaches to preventing headaches with diet. The rst approach would be an elimination diet that avoids foods and beverages known to trigger headaches. The second approach would be follow a comprehensive diet whose very composition may prevent headaches, explains Martin, co-director of the Headache and Facial Pain Center at UC Gardner Neuroscience Institute and an expert in the area of migraine. His conclusions and others for migraineurs come after performing an exhaustive literature review of more than 180 research studies on the subject of migraine and diet.
Martin’s two-part review, “Diet and Headache” is available online in the scholarly publication Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain. It is co-authored by Brinder Vij, MD, associate professor in the UC Department of Neurology and Rehabilitation Medicine.
That said, too much co ee may also present a risk, no more than 400 milligrams daily—one cup is 125 milligrams—is probably the maximum for migraine patients, says Martin. “Large amounts of ca eine can bring on anxiety and depressive symptoms as well as headaches,” he explains.
Another trigger for migraine is MSG, which is a avor enhancer used in a variety of processed foods, including frozen or canned foods, soups, international foods, snack foods, salad dressing, seasoning salts, ketchup, barbecue sauce, and heavily in Chinese cooking, says Martin, also a UC Health physician.
“You eliminate it by eating fewer processed foods,” explains Martin. “You eat more natural things such as fresh vegetables, fresh fruits and fresh meats. MSG is most provocative when consumed in liquids such as soups.”
Nitrites are preservatives food in processed meats such as bacon, sausage, ham and lunch meat to preserve color and avor. Martin says a diary study found that ve percent of individuals with migraine were statistically more likely to have an attack on days when they consume nitrites. Use of nitrites in foods has declined with stronger government regulation though checking labels remains a good idea, he explains.
Alcohol is one of the most commonly reported dietary trigger factors for migraine and studies suggest vodka and red wines, especially those with highest histamine content are problematic, says Martin.
There is a lot of interest in gluten-free diets, but they are only helpful in lessening headaches if the individuals su er from celiac disease, which can be established by a positive blood test or intestinal biopsy, he adds.
There have been three comprehensive diets whose very composition may prevent headaches such as low fat and low carbohydrate diets as well as those that increase the amount of omega-3 fatty acids and decrease the amount of omega-6 fatty acids, according to Martin.
Vij, who is also associate director of the Headache and Facial Pain Center at the UC Gardner Neuroscience Institute, says low fat diets restrict the amount of fat in the diet to less than 20 percent of your daily energy requirements.
“The beauty of these diets is that they not only reduce headaches, but may produce weight loss and prevent heart disease”, says Vij ,a UC Health physician.
Low carbohydrate diets such as ketogenic diets can reduce headache frequency, but it’s not something to consider without strict physician supervision. The diet limits carbohydrates more than the well-known Atkins diet, Vij explains.
One of the most promising diets for those with more frequent attacks of migraine is one that boosts your omega-3 fats while lessening your omega-6 levels and that means tossing out polyunsaturated vegetable oils (corn, sun ower, sa ower, canola and soy) in favor of axseed oil, says Martin. Foods to consume would include axseed, salmon, halibut, cod and scallops while those to avoid would be peanuts and cashews.
hea“Persons with dache and migraine have more dietary options than ever. Ultimately a healthy headache diet excludes processed foods, minimizes ca eine and includes a lot of fruits, vegetables, sh and lean meats”, Martin says. He adds, “After all, you w_ha_t_y_o_ are u eat.” —This information provided courtesy of the University of Cincinnati HealthNews